SKIP TO CONTENT

belay

To belay is to secure or hold the end of a climbing rope so that the climber won't fall far if she slips. Your friend might climb a rock wall first, while you belay for her.

You can belay on your own by fixing the end of your rope, but it's more common — and safer — to have a partner belay for you while you climb. To do this, she exerts friction on the rope when you don't move, and releases more rope when you need it to climb higher. The word was first used by sailors in the 16th century, in a similar way — to secure a marine rope by coiling it around a pin.

Definitions of belay
  1. verb
    turn a rope round an object or person in order to secure it or him
    see moresee less
    type of:
    fasten, fix, secure
    cause to be firmly attached
  2. verb
    fasten a boat to a bitt, pin, or cleat
    see moresee less
    type of:
    fasten, fix, secure
    cause to be firmly attached
  3. noun
    something to which a mountain climber's rope can be secured
    see moresee less
    type of:
    outcrop, outcropping, rock outcrop
    the part of a rock formation that appears above the surface of the surrounding land
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week